Nature has arranged it so each mother’s milk at any given time is the best food for her baby. Breast milk is ideally adapted to the baby’s nutritional needs, his growth rate and his immune system. The baby formula industry uses cow’s milk to make products, not because it is the most similar to human milk, but because cow’s milk is available in large quantities .
It requires relatively little effort or cost to manufacture. The most distinct difference between cow’s milk and mother’s milk is that cow’s milk is suited for cows and the development of a baby calf. Mother’s milk is composed of things suitable for a human infant.
There are many, many identifiable proteins, enzymes, and other minerals in breast milk that help sustain, protect and grow the babies who drink it. Breast milk also contains many as yet unknown components. Infant formula is created to resemble mother’s milk. But we will see it is a poor substitute for the real thing. What’s in mother’s milk, and what are its advantages?
Human milk consists mainly of water: All its other ingredients are dissolved in water. Breast milk preserves an ideal, flexible relationship between water and its other ingredients. For example, the first milk the baby gets at a feed is watery and thirst quenching, while milk toward the end of a feed is creamier and more filling . An exclusively breastfed child doesn’t usually need additional fluid, even in hot weather, as long as she is put to the breast sufficiently and her mother takes in sufficient fluids herself. (A mother would have to be seriously dehydrated to affect her milk supply.)
The main proteins in milk are called casein and lactalbumin. Casein is a protein that curdles coarsely (it’s the basis for yogurt, kefir,cottage cheese and other cheeses); lactalbumin, on the other hand, is a much smoother protein similar to the clear, water like part of cow’s milk that separates from the curd. In cow’s milk, the casein to lactalbumin ratio is higher than it is in mother’s milk. That means cow’s milk based formula has a lot more coarse, curdling milk protein than mother’s milk does. Casein sticks together in the baby’s stomach and is much harder to digest than the finer lactalbumin. Because of this clumping tendency, formula companies dilute, homogenize and add emulsifiers to infant formula.
Even so, we observe that bottle-fed babies are more prone to digestive problems such as stomach gas and constipation. Apparently a newborn can only partially digest cow’s milk protein; the remainder is eliminated in the form of large stools. Because human milk is fully absorbed by babies, breastfed babies gain more weight on less breast milk than they would if they were fed the same amount of formula. The large amount of lactalbumin in mother’s milk makes it easier to digest, and it empties more quickly from the baby’s intestines. For this reason, it is normal for breastfed babies to be hungry sooner than bottle fed babies; in the beginning, every two to three hours.
About half the nutritional value of mother’s milk lies in its fat content. Fat is especially important to the newborn because it is used to develop new nerve cells. Mother’s milk has many more unsaturated fatty acids than formula does, Fatty acids are particularly indispensable to an infant. They are critical for digestion, protection against infection and possibly intelligence. Infant formula adds vegetable oil in an effort to duplicate the fatty acid combinations in mother’s milk. This oil cannot make formula the same as the species-specific, healthful milk you produce for your baby.
between breast milk and formula can be made up to some extent by adding lactose and other types of sugar to cow’s milk based formula. However, some other carbohydrates present in human milk, such as the bifidus factor, are absent in cow’s milk and cannot be Milk sugar (lactose) is present in different amounts in both mother’s milk and cow’s milk. This carbohydrate is the second most important energy source for the baby. The difference in lactose content duplicated in formula.
This beneficial substance is necessary for the growth of lactobacillus bifidus, which helps protect the baby’s intestines from disease producing bacteria (such as certain coli types and streptococci families). It also protects against infant enteritis (inflammation Medical literature describes epidemics of infant enteritis before the discovery of antibiotics. These cases were only brought under control by feeding the affected babies fresh, untreated mother’s milk.
Levels of sodium, calcium and magnesium are many times higher in cow’s milk than in mother’s milk. Infant formula companies artificially try to reduce these levels, but they cannot duplicate the exact mineral composition present in mother’s milk. These minerals may be low in mother’s milk, but they are still better absorbed by the breastfed baby than are the same minerals in infant formula.
Vitamins and Iron
During pregnancy, deposits of vitamins A, D, E and K are stored in the mother s body. For a healthy woman who nourishes herself sensibly this supply is often enough to cover most of her baby’s entire vitamin requirement during the coli bacteriat. Mother’s milk contains relatively little iron, but it does contain the enzyme lactoferrin, which binds itself to iron in the baby’s body.
Lactoferrin permits the baby to absorb at least half of all iron present in the mother’s milk. Without lactoferrin, which is not in cow’s milk, a baby absorbs just a fraction of the iron available in his food, even if this food has added iron! In the first six to nine months of life, a full term baby still has the large iron reserve he got from his mother during the pregnancy. The small amount of iron he receives through his mother’s milk is enough in this early period.
In the womb, the baby receives antibodies against germs and organisms to which his mother has been exposed. These are called immunoglobulins certain kinds of protein. The time immediately after birth is critical for the baby; The antibodies he receives from his mother during pregnancy are available, but start to disappear. He can’t produce his own antibodies yet. His immune system gradually matures in the first year of life. Breastfeeding is ideal for bridging this critical phase. It continues to protect him with his mother’s antibodies.